City Council recognizes employees at Monday's council meeting

After honoring long-time employees and swearing in a new member, the Augusta City Council approved utility abatements for several area non-profit organizations Monday night.

Mike Martin took the oath of office to replace Ward One's Holly Harper who resigned recently. Martin is a life-long Augusta resident who owns a downtown business with Ward Four Councilor Matt Malone.

The governing body also recognized six long-time employees for their years of service.

Electric Utility Director Bill Webster was honored for 25 years of service to the city.

Five more employees were recognized for 10 years of service. Water Utility Locator Les Clark, Safety Department Records Clerk Kim Galgon, Street Department Technician Cleave Purdy, Public Safety Officer Danny Strobbe and Street Department Technician Richard Wood were all given certificates and will receive a bonus on a future paycheck.

The council also approved utility abatements for nine local groups and several little league sports organizations.

The little league sports groups are not included in the total of the utility abatements because their usage is never billed. Among those receiving bills and abatements are the Augusta Arts Council for the Theatre and Gallery, the Chamber of Commerce, Community Caring Center, Historical Society, Public Library, Senior Center, Museum of Military History and Mid-Kansas CAP.

The total amount approved for abatements was $57,400.

Many of the groups receive partial abatements and pay the amount they use over the amount the council agrees to waive.

The Museum of Military History only used $3,835 last year but requested an abatement of $4,500 for 2013.

The council did not approve the increase since no mention was made about why the increase was justified.

"Money is tight and getting tighter all the time," Councilor Mike Wallace said. "If thee groups want an abatement, they need to ask and be able to justify it."

The measure passed 7-1 with Sue Jones voting against granting the abatements as listed.